Facts about Alzheimer’s

February 4, 2014

Facts About Alzheimer’s Disease

  • 35 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease
  • Every 70 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s, now the fifth leading killer, rose 47% from 2000 to 2006
  • 54% of the U.S. population has been touched in some way by Alzheimer’s
  • Presently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the largest socio-economic burden on our society.
  • Over 10.9 million Americans are unpaid caregivers.
  • Alzheimer’s costs the U.S. economy $172 billion dollars a year.
  • 166,990,902 Americans have been touched in some way by Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia affecting 5.3 million Americans.
  • 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 and nearly 1 in 2 Americans over age 85 currently have Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease which advances in stages from mild forgetfulness and cognitive impairment to wide spread loss of mental abilities and total dependence on a caregiver. The time from the onset of symptoms until death ranges from 3 to 20 years with the average duration lasting about 8 years.
  • The progressive loss of cognitive function is accompanied by pathologic (disease associated) changes in the brain.
  • Abnormal plaques (comprised of a brain protein called beta amyloid) develop in the spaces between nerve cells and limit the communication between cells, leading to a decrease in cognitive functioning.
  • In addition, another protein which normally channels chemical messages inside nerve cells, deforms and collapses into neurofibrillary tangles that appear like twisted bits of thread inside nerve cells, which leads to a loss of nerve cells.
  • There is currently no single test used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. In most cases your doctor will first rule out other diseases that can impact memory by laboratory tests and a physical exam. Neuropsychological tests are used to determine if there is any cognitive impairment.
  • The FDA has approved these drugs to be used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s:
    • Aricept (donepezil): for mild, moderate, and severe Alzheimer’s
    • Exelon (rivastigmine): for mild and moderate Alzheimer’s
    • Razadyne (galantamine): for mild,and moderate Alzheimer’s
    • Namenda (memantine): for moderate and severe Alzheimer’s
  •  Other medications may be prescribed to treat such symptoms as agitation, anxiety and poor sleep.
  • Studies have shown that early diagnosis and the creation of a stimulating and supportive environment can be beneficial in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s
  • High cholesterol and diets high in saturated fats increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, while diets high in antioxidants decrease the risk.
  • In addition to looking for a cure, researchers are focusing more and more on supporting the caregivers who spend upwards of 13 hours a day caring for loved ones.

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